The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)
Nuremberg, war crimes, crimes against humanity

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
27th May to 6th June, 1946

One Hundred and Forty-Seventh Day: Wednesday, 5th June, 1946
(Part 1 of 10)

[Page 333]

THE MARSHAL: If it please the Tribunal, the report is made that defendant Seyss-Inquart is absent.

PROF. KRAUS (Counsel for defendant Schacht): Mr. President, in agreement with the prosecution, I ask permission to submit a memorandum of Hitler referring to the Four-Year Plan of 1936. It is a certified copy, certified by a British officer in Dustbin Camp. I have numbered it Exhibit Schacht "48." In the afternoon session of 1st May, my friend, Dr. Dix, referred to this memorandum, which could not, at that time, be incorporated into the record. Dr. Schacht then quoted a few passages from it. The President stated that we could submit the memorandum at a later date, provided, of course, that the prosecution agreed. The prosecution has done so, and I therefore trust that I may now be permitted to submit it.

Furthermore, I am handing in a number of English translations. I regret I have not yet been able to provide translations in the other languages, and I ask permission to supply those translations later on.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Kraus, until the other translations are actually made, the documents will not become part of the record.

PROF. KRAUS: No, the English translations are available, and the others are not yet ready. May I submit them later?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, certainly. And they will then become part of the record.

PROF. KRAUS: Yes, as a supplement to the Document Book.





Q. General, you told us yesterday that you were the Chief of Operations Staff of the Armed Forces and that your main task consisted in the preparation of military operational plans. Is that correct?

A. That is correct.

Q. Then, from where did you get the plans? Who decided what plans you had to make?

A. It was the same as in any other military staff. The Commander-in-Chief, in this case the Fuehrer in person, received documents for his decisions; maps, strength returns - both of our own and enemy forces - and general information about the enemy. He then made his own decisions, after which he set my General Staff to work, giving these decisions the military form necessary for the entire machinery of the Wehrmacht.

Q. Now in the course of these tasks and studies, you also had to work on operations which were never actually carried out?

[Page 334]

A. I prepared a number of such operations. Of the total number of operations which I prepared by issuing orders and instructions, there was only one which I definitely knew would be carried out - that was the operation against Yugoslavia. In the case of all the other operational plans the decision as to whether they would be carried out or not remained undecided for a long time.

As an example of operational plans which had been drafted in every detail but which were never carried out, there was the invasion of England, the march into Spain, the seizure of Gibraltar, the seizure of Malta, the capture of the Fischer Peninsula near Petsamo, and a winter attack on Kandalakscha, on the Murmansk Railway.

Q. Then did these tasks of yours cover all the theatres of war?

A. At the beginning of the war, the work of my General Staff did not apply to theatres of war at all, but the Fuehrer's instructions were addressed only to the branches of the Wehrmacht and so to the Army, Navy and the Air Force, and only after the Norwegian campaign was the Operations Staff of the Wehrmacht, for the first time, made responsible for a theatre of war. But this condition changed completely when, in the beginning of 1942, the Fuehrer himself assumed supreme command of the Army. Kesselring has already been asked about this but he did not answer. However, it stands to reason that the Fuehrer, as supreme commander of the armed forces, could not - with my assistance - issue orders to himself, in his capacity as Commander-in-chief of the Army and then have them carried out with the assistance of General Zeitzler. Consequently a separation arose; from that moment on he, with the General Staff of the Army, directed the entire Eastern front, while the Operations Staff of the Armed Forces became responsible for the general staff work of all the other theatres of war.

Q. Now the witness, Field Marshal Paulus, has testified before the Tribunal that the OKW was responsible for the order to hold Stalingrad and, as a matter of fact, both Keitel and you have been repeatedly accused by the foreign Press of issuing this so disastrous order. Is that true?

A. No, that is not true. The witness, for whom I feel the deepest sympathy and with whom I have worked in the most comradely fashion possible, could not have known anything at all about it. The facts are as follows: the decision to hold Stalingrad was taken, the moment danger threatened, by the Fuehrer himself in a private conversation with General Zeitzler and contrary to the latter's advice. Zeitzler told me so himself on his return from this interview. At a later stage, when the blizzards were already raging across the steppes of the Don, the question of a break-through by the Stalingrad garrison was discussed again. Field Marshal Keitel, General Zeitzler and I were present on this occasion.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Exner, I do not quite see how that is relevant, although Field Marshal Paulus may have said something about it. I mean, he may have given some evidence on the fighting at Stalingrad, and he undoubtedly did, but I do not see how it bears upon the case before us or how it bears upon the case for Jodl.

DR. EXNER: Mr. President, this has already clarified the matter. It was necessary to correct Field Marshal Paulus's error. But this has already made the matter clear.

Q. We now return to the time when you, in 1939, were recalled from Vienna to Berlin. What state of affairs did you find in Berlin on your arrival?

A. I found a completely incomprehensible state of affairs in Berlin. At least, it was incomprehensible to me. Nobody knew what was the truth and what was bluff. The pact with Russia was feeding all our hopes for the preservation of peace, hopes which were immensely increased and strengthened by the surprise cancellation of the attack ordered for 26th August. None of the soldiers to whom I spoke expected a war with the Western Powers at that time. Nothing had been prepared except the attack on Poland.

[Page 335]

There was only a defensive concentration of troops on the West Wall. The forces stationed there were so weak that we could not man all the pillboxes at one time. All the efforts for the preservation of peace, efforts I have heard about here from the Reichsmarschall remained unknown to me, in so far as they were not published in the Press, even the name of Dahlerus. But there is one thing I can say in conclusion: when the declarations of war were received from England and France, their effect on us soldiers who had fought in the First World War was like a blow from a cudgel, and I heard in confidence, from the General Staff - today the matter is no longer confidential - that the Reichsmarschall reacted in exactly the same way.

Q. Do you know when Poland mobilised?

A. That I cannot say. I only know that at the moment when I arrived in Berlin and was being informed by General Stulpnagel for the very first time about the situation and our own strength, a Polish operation was already in progress along the frontier as well as the German one.

Q. That in itself answers the accusation brought against you in the Trial Brief, namely, "planning against Poland."

Had you prepared a plan against Poland?

A. No. Not by a single stroke of the pen did 1 participate in any preparations for a Polish war.

Q. Then I am right in summing up that, when you left Berlin, there was not yet an operations plan against Poland?

A. Yes.

Q. But when you returned to Berlin the plan was ready?

A. Yes, the plan of attack was completely worked out.

Q. Did you hear the Fuehrer's speech of 22nd August, which has been so often quoted here.

A. No, on that day I was still in Vienna.

Q. When did you hear of that speech?

A. For the first time here in Nuremberg.

Q. Do you remember a meeting in the Fuehrer's special train on 9th September, 1939, described here by General Lahousen? Can you remember that?

A. Yes, I remember that meeting perfectly.

Q. Tell me what was the subject of the conversation during that meeting?

A. I met the Fuehrer in the so-called Staff-car, in the chartroom, where Field Marshal Keitel, Canaris and Lahousen were, and then Canaris made a brief report on the information he had received from the West, and expressed the opinion that a French attack in the Saarbrucken sector was imminent. The Fuehrer contradicted this and so did I, and apart from that, nothing else was talked about.

Q. Then Lahousen's statement is correct that you were only present during that particular part of the discussion?

A. As far as I am concerned, I have not a word of objection to raise against Lahousen's statement. Absolutely correct.

Q. Frequent mention has been made during this trial of the artillery and air bombardment of Warsaw. Did you participate in the giving of the orders for this?

A. Yes, I participated in so far as the Commander-in-Chief of the Army had applied to the Fuehrer for permission for the artillery to bombard Warsaw as soon as the concentration of artillery units had been completed. The Fuehrer refused to do this. He said: "What is happening here because of the Poles is madness." He ordered me to draft new leaflets - which I did personally and immediately - and have them dropped again over the city of Warsaw. Only when this renewed demand to cease the hopeless resistance had proved absolutely unsuccessful did he sanction artillery bombardment and air attacks on the fortress of Warsaw - and I emphasize the word "fortress."

Q. Did you have anything to do with the co-ordination of German and Soviet operations?

[Page 336]

A. Yes. When we were still three days' march away from the Vistula, I was informed - to my great surprise - by, I believe, the representative of the Foreign Office, while I was entering the Fuehrer's Headquarters, that Soviet troops would occupy the Polish Territories -

THE PRESIDENT: Defendant, if it is convenient to you, I think you might speak a little faster -

A. - that the Polish territories ... east of an agreed demarcation line would be occupied by Soviet troops at a suitable time. After we had closely examined this agreed demarcation line - which was shown to me on a map - after we had closely examined this demarcation line-it was the East Prussian Lithuanian frontier line, Narev-Vistula-San - I telephoned to our Military Attache in Moscow to the effect that we could probably reach individual points of this line in the course of the following day. Shortly afterwards I was informed, over the telephone, that the Soviet divisions were not yet ready.

When, on the day after next, we reached the demarcation line and had to cross it in pursuit of the Poles, I once again received news from Moscow, at 0200 hours, that the Soviet divisions would take up their position along the entire front at 0400 hours. This manoeuvre was punctually carried out and I then drafted an order to our German troops, wherever they had contacted the troops of the Soviet Union, to withdraw behind the demarcation line after reaching an agreement with the Russians.

Q. Do you know on what day all this happened?

A. I cannot tell you exactly when the troops reached the line, but I would say it was on or about 14th or 15th September.

Q. We shall now deal with aggressive wars against the neutral countries.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Exner, now all that the defendant has just been telling us seems to be to me a simple waste of our time, with absolutely no relevance to this case at all; and why you let him do it, I do not know.

Q. You have been accused of having used your personal influence and your close relations with the Fuehrer to attack a whole series of neutral countries. Tell me, is that true?

A. No, it is untrue. I remember that a witness here spoke of a sinister influence, of a key position of a sinister kind. At any rate, something sinister. But my influence on the Fuehrer was unfortunately not in the least as great as it might or perhaps even ought to have been in view of the position I held. The reason lay in the powerful personality of this despot, who could not easily submit to advice.

Q. When did you first hear of, a plan for the possible occupation of Norway?

A. The Fuehrer first spoke to me about it - I think it was in mid-November 1939 - at any rate a fairly long time after Grand Admiral Raeder had first spoken to him. At that first conference which, I believe, took place on 10th October, I had not yet heard of anything, nor did the Fuehrer give me any information. But in the middle of November, he spoke to me about it. I first learned the details in the verbal report made by the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy, which took place on 12th November and at which I was present.

Q. In this connection I would draw your attention to Document C-64, Exhibit GB 86, Page 46 of the Document Book. But I do not need to read it aloud. Volume I, Page 46.

What was the Fuehrer's point of view?

A. The general attitude of the Fuehrer at that time - it is also confirmed in writing - was "I am not at all interested in extending the theatres of war, but if the danger of an occupation of Norway by England really exists, and if that is true, then the situation would be quite different."

Q. Were any orders given at that time?

[Page 337]

A. None; he merely instructed me to study this problem on general lines. The preliminary work, as has been proved by documents, began on 27th January, 1940.

DR. EXNER: That is obvious from Document C-63, Exhibit USA 98.

Q. Were you, at that time, of the opinion that the assurances given by Hitler in September and October 1939, to respect Norwegian neutrality, were you of the opinion that this assurance was given for the purpose of lulling Norway into a state of security, as has been alleged by the prosecution?

A. That allegation can be definitely refuted, and by means of a few dates which I shall now give. These assurances, these political assurances, were given by the Fuehrer or by the Reich Government - I do not know which - on 2nd September and 6th October. On 9th October the Fuehrer read and signed the famous memorandum known as Document L-52. I do not know whether the Tribunal is aware of the fact that this is a personal memorandum of the Fuehrer.

DR. EXNER: This is Document L-52, Exhibit USA 540, on Page 48, Volume I, of my Document Book.

Q. For whom was the memorandum prepared?

A. This memorandum, I think it is obvious from the document, went out to the three commanders-in-chief and the chief of the OKW. It was dictated word for word by the Fuehrer in person, and was completed in two nights.

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